PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s vicious tiff with war veterans poses a serious national security threat and could undermine Zanu PF’s bid to retain power in the 2018 general elections, a leaked confidential ministerial document directed to the veteran politician has shown.
The 10-page document dated October 5, and co-signed by Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and his War Veterans counterpart, Tshinga Dube, insinuates that the fallout between Mugabe and a group of war veterans led by Christopher Mutsvangwa was being fanned from within Zanu PF’s warring factions.
“The problems affecting war veterans in their totality and complexity are beginning to define a national security threat, with unpleasant connotations as the 2018 elections approach. This calls for urgency in addressing their issues,” the document read.
Dube and Sekeramayi were part of a “high-level steering committee” that includes the country’s securocrats, set up to investigate the genesis of the fallout between Mugabe and war veterans following the release of a damning communiqué in July which denounced the Zanu PF leader as “genocidal”.
“The high-level steering committee has concluded that some of the problems that are afflicting war veterans are being orchestrated and sponsored from within the party. This calls for some constructive conversations, both vertical and horizontal, of which this letter is but a beginning,” the secret document read.
Zanu PF is split between two distinct factions, both fighting to sponsor a candidate to succeed 92-year-old Mugabe.
The Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) has declared their allegiance to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and is pushing to block the G40 faction, reportedly supporting First Lady Grace Mugabe, from grabbing State power and anoint the President’s successor.
In their letter, printed on the War Veterans ministry’s letterhead, Sekeramayi and Dube pleaded with Mugabe to intervene urgently before matters “go out of hand”.
“This plea solemnly seeks to invoke Your Excellency’s tried and tested statesmanship, your esteemed wisdom and prudence so that you may consider intervening both in the party and government in order to restore matters concerning war veterans before they go too far out of hand.
“The plea comes in the face of serious challenges facing war veterans, including mainly government’s increasing failure to meet their statutory welfare entitlements, their own deepening internal disunity, poor leadership and loss of direction amongst some of them as well as the deepening rift in their relationship with the party.”
The latest development comes at a time Mutsvangwa, who still remains the legitimate ZNLWVA leader, and his entire executive have been booted out of Zanu PF for alleged insubordination.
Mutsvangwa’s lieutenants were arrested and arraigned before the courts in connection with the controversial July communiqué, but later removed from remand as the case continues to crumble.
According to the document, government owes war veterans $37,7 million dating back to the last quarter of 2013 including a staggering $2,4 million used to host Mugabe’s indaba with the ex-fighters in April this year.
The document proposed a programme of action that shuts out Mutsvangwa and his executive as well as a faction led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene from leading the former fighters’ association.
Instead, Sekeramayi and Dube proposed that ZNLWVA treasurer Robert Dube be appointed interim leader of the association.
The two ministers blamed unnamed government officials and a host of ministries for refusing to co-operate with the War Veterans ministry in efforts to economically empower the former fighters, some of whom were reeling in abject poverty.
“Government’s policy of reserving for war veterans 20% of all land acquired for resettlement no longer seems to be respected. Large numbers of war veterans are losing allocated land to the current programme of urban settlement which is mainly benefiting the youths.”
Two companies have reportedly been created, Power Zimbabwe and Dzimbahwe Trust, through which the former freedom fighters were supposed to get preferential treatment as well as concessionary loans across the country’s economic spectrum, but the document showed this had met with stiff resistance from within Zanu PF party structures and government.-amh